VIERA, Fla. — Expanded instant replay is coming to baseball this season, and Matt Williams has now been schooled on many more details of the new system MLB is implementing that allows managers to officially challenge blown calls on the field.
Williams joined fellow managers Fredi Gonzalez, Bo Porter and Brad Ausmus in Kissimmee on Friday afternoon for a 2 1/2-hour meeting with MLB officials, including Joe Torre, on the new system and came away much more knowledgeable about the process.
"They came with a full presentation, including video and examples," he said. "It was really informative."
Among the more interesting details Williams shared from the meeting...
— Managers will be allowed to formally challenge one call during the first six innings of a game. If successful, they may challenge once more. From the seventh inning on, including extra innings, the umpires themselves decide whether to review a play. A manager, though, can try to convince an umpire to go to instant replay without formally using his challenge.
— All challenges will be decided by a crew of active umpires watching from MLB's headquarters in New York. The same video feed they receive will also be available in the Nationals' video room inside their clubhouse, where a team employee can watch replays and call via a direct phone line to the dugout and suggest whether the play should be challenged or not. "Our video guys would get the same feed that they have in New York, so they can make an educated decision," Williams said.
— In order to prevent stalling, there are guidelines in place for how long managers will have before they must declare that they're challenging a play. Those guidelines will vary depending on the game situation. For example, if a pitching change is being made, the challenge must be declared before the new relievers enters from the bullpen.
— Among the plays that cannot be challenged: Balls and strikes, fair/foul calls in which the ball travels directly over first or third base, trapped line drives in the infield and the so-called "neighborhood play" at second base (unless a poor throw clearly draws the fielder off the bag).